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NFL17 Pre-Play: Cannabis, Chronic Player Pain and a National Conundrum

6 Jul

Mention marijuana (cannabis) to most NFL players and you’re likely to get a positive response, no pun intended.

Classified a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act, based largely on marijuana’s psychoactive cannabinoid, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) (One of over 100 canabinoids, including the non-mood-altering cannabidiol (CBD) (Got your fill of biology yet?)) and the Act’s belief in that property’s serious risk for abuse, pot’s possession, sale and / or use are still prosecuted as a criminal offense in twenty-three states, nineteen more (42) if it is possessed outside of prescribed, medicinal usage.

Even so, as an agent for pain-management and escapism, cannabis, whether obtained legally or otherwise, appears to be the drug of choice amongst enough of the NFLPA membership to have spurred Dallas Cowboys’ owner and sport celebrity Jerry Jones to advocate for its allowance while speaking at the owner’s meeting in Phoenix last March.

Currently only eight states have decriminalized ganja for market sale, one of those being Cali-for-ni-a (‘99), the most recent, Nevada, and another twenty-one by prescription only. And don’t expect the former number to grow much beyond the single-digit state (no pun) anytime soon.

Even so, gone forever are the days where tokers took their only solace-in-smoke (or weed-eating, i.e., brownies) by way of High Times and the NORMAL newsletter. Business is booming for Hemp, Incorporated.

Yet, here-to-stay is marijuana’s well-earned status as a gateway drug, not just leading to stronger, more addictive varieties like narcotics, opiods, peer poisons in alcohol and cigarettes, but when engaged in youth can quickly open the door to a whole new lifestyle and not necessarily a better one. It’s one that is non-conforming to a fault while draining enthusiasm or ambition to a low level found in your forlorn basset hound. Been there, done it, woof, woof.

That status was bolstered somewhat on recent release by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s broadest study as yet conducted on cannabis – cannabinoids and their health effects on humanoids.

In January (1.17) the NA released its 468 page report* compiled from human subject studies for findings on the “health effects of recreational and therapeutic cannabis use” and that of its elemental cannabinoids (THC, CBD, etc.).

With a focus in this write on health issues most pertinent to NFL players and their employers stemming (no pun) from the marijuana issue, there was both good news and bad news to be gleaned from the lengthy report.

The good news is that “there is substantial evidence (p.90)” cannibas can be a beneficial agent in treating chronic pain, a malady concomitant with those who engage athletics over an extended period of years.

The bad news: 1) Marijuana is still a gateway drug; 2) pot can be addictive (“problem cannabis use (333)”), especially as a teen and 3) regular use of cannabis is associated with risks of schizophrenia (“substantial (295)”), bipolar disorder (“moderate (307)”), suicide (“moderate (314)”), memory loss (“moderate evidence of…association between acute cannabis use and impairment in the cognitive domains of learning, memory and attention (275)”), anxiety (“moderate evidence daily cannabis use is associated with increased anxiety (119 / 318)”) and social phobia disorder (“heavy use (120)).”

It’s a mixed bag. The bottom-line: If in chemotherapy (nausea) or afflicted with multiple sclerosis (spasticity), the “conclusive” findings (94 / 103) tilt your risk-benefit balance in favor of marijuana’s use (“oral cannabinoids”) to alleviate suffering, assuming you’ve had your prof’l consult and sorted through the national hodge-podge of legalese. In those more serious, harder to treat medical conditions, cannabis is a proven therapy for relief, and that alone is reason for re-examination of its rather draconian federal categorizing.

But where paid athletes seeking a marijuana solution for chronic pain are subject, a state so common in their bruising professions, whether by smoke or extracts (oral), the risks posed appear too great in the benefit balance, risks arising from uneven permissibility (legality) and, more importantly, from the potential for memory decline, that very same malady central to the ongoing concussion debate that plagues hard-hitting sports like football, hockey and boxing. That’s an irony that hits like Bobby Wagner: Ouch!

And when there exists effective alternatives readily available to pain-sufferers in nutrition supplements (tart cherry & noni juice, magnesium, Co-Q10, curcumin, polyphenolic-antioxidents, Bs, D3, alpha lipoic), diet adjustments ((-) gluten, sugar, cured meats) and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, naproxen)), the so-called marijuana answer to pain management, not without its merits, proves too risky to fire-up or wash-down.

Even as the mental health and cognitive findings on pot’s use and “sustained abstinence (275)” were not based on “conclusive” or “substantial” evidentiary finding (Box S-3, “Weight-of-Evidence” standards (p.7)), it’s doubtful additional NA compilations on the polarizing weed, even with gold standard double-blind placebo controlled structures sought, will reveal the opposite to be true, that memory or bipolar – anxiety disorders are improved with its habitual use.

And keep in mind that whenever federal and state governments are at odds over a national issue of legislation, leading to a broad non-uniformity, that status will trigger Commerce and Supremacy clause inquiries and then eventually end up on the Supreme Court’s docket. So don’t vest too heavily yet.

Marijuana is here to stay, legal or illegal, medicinal or diversionary. And like it or not, Charles Barkley, pro athletes are role models to the nation’s youth. Fire up the bong and make it a public issue with lifestyle or league violations and that segment of the population least able to manage the drug properly will have their lives changed forever in health risks and bad habits.

In 2015 the League (Goodell) and NFLPA (Smith) went all namby-pamby in raising, under their collectively bargained drug policy, the level of marijuana required in test to trigger a violation, essentially telling players and the public that using what is still fairly characterized as an illicit drug is A-okay with them, because lots of the using players want it that way, even as its continued use is also fairly characterized as detrimental to their health. So there’s that.

— — —

This writer is not medically-trained (I was, as George Segal’s character “Mr. Kovacs” termed it in The Cable Guy (96), “on the pot” in my late teens, alcohol and smokes included, of course) and did not read the entire 468 page report, instead focusing on those sections most relevant to NFL player concerns. But I wrote with honesty and thoroughness befitting an 1100 word blog. For the lay-person the report is readable, somewhat unclear in spots but overall helpful by informing on a very broad and still yet under-researched subject.

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: marijuana-joint, wc.cca, T.Hansen, 2.23.08; marijuana-costume, SCCE, 10.16.16, wc, G.Skidmore; marijuana-plant, J.Martin, wc, 7.14.15; marijuana-neon, wc, SanFernando-Valley, LA-CA, L.Avocado; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 7.6.17 @ 1:03p EST, edit 7.7; Copyright © 2017
*References: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine: http://nationalacademies.org/hmd/reports/2017/health-effects-of-cannabis-and-cannabinoids.aspx

NFL16 Cherry Picks W1: “Winning Isn’t Everything” ..Seriously

7 Sep

You’ve gotta’ hand it to little Sherry Jackson. The girl knew her football.

In the 1950s, the precocious child actress starred with such film greats as John Garfield, Phyllis Thaxter, Patricia Neal, Donna Reed, Marie Windsor, Anne Baxter, Jean Hagen and Steve Cochran just to name a few, then moved to TV where she’d co-star on Make Room For Daddy, aka, The Danny Thomas Show (1953-64) (Dan a co-founder of the Dolphins (‘65)) and later blossomed into one of the most recognizable, beautiful TV starlets of the 1960s & 70s.

jackson-thomas-wc-abc-71k-makeroomIn one of her early, more notable films, Trouble Along the Way (‘53), Sherry (“Carole”) teamed with former USC man John Wayne as “Steve Williams,” a divorced, single-parent football coach whose rule-bending ways have him building back at a struggling Catholic college (Notre Dame‘s poor relative) run by the lovable Charles Coburn (“Father Burke”). In it she speaks one of the most famous lines in sport history, often mis-credited to the incomparable Vince Lombardi of Packers fame: “Like Steve (Dad) says, winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” “You know it, kid (J.Van Fleet).”

Don’t misunderstand the title. Winning’s great, especially when you haven’t had much. Vince seemed to win just by walking his persona onto the field, and barking a bit (“Where’s the tacking out there! Just alot a’ grab grab!’”).

But when losing becomes routine you can go one of two ways, either wail like a banshee about it or try to find the good where you can.

With that in mind I present the ‘goods.’ Four (4) up-sides to keep in mind for you and the team if those Ls happen to start overtaking the Ws this NFL16 season. Not everyone can live up-stream (NE, GB, PIT, DEN..). I didn’t make the rules.

stethoscope-wc-8-11-8-stethoscopes-thm1) Good health: When you’ve got it, you’ve got ‘everything,’ it’s been said. A bit of hyperbole to be sure, but when you don’t have it, getting it back will become “the only thing.” Once you’ve settled-in to losing (W6?), the BP will settle down. Oh yeah, exercise 4-5 times a week (walk, don’t run) and get off the sugar, ASAP.

2) PRV (Pressure Release Valve): Is your team in the toilet? Relax, now the pressure’s off. Like the political party that loses the White House bid. Being the out-of-power / minority sect can have its advantages as critic and deal-buster. Think Bill & Tom don’t get frazzled with all that pressure to maintain the Patriot Way? You bet they do (See; Lombardi to DC (‘69)).

And those wise-cracks about your team’s futility that’ve grown as tired as another Law & Order episode, unless your nemesis, Sir (Madam) Wisenheimer, boasts a team who hoists in February, you’ve plenty of time now to stock your verbal ammunition for when their ‘contender’ moves next door into Bust City.

3) More face-time: The more your men stumble on the turf, the more time you have on social-media to get the latest on your greatest celebs like Kaep Krusader, Johnny Matriculator (A&M) and Timmy Baseball-Until-the-Next-Schtick.

4) Feel the Draft: The more games your guys happen to lose, the more likely that prized college pick will come your team’s way in May. But no danger of tanking in the National (See; NBA), not for draft picks anyway (See; fantasy stats), just thinking glass half-full.

cherries-hispalois-7-2-12-caceres-spain-wc-4-4mCherry Picks Week 1

NFL 2016-17 presses the point again with that Thursday nite opener (Zzzzz) while Sunday offers the real deal with the fuller slate of football smorgasbord.

2015-16: 105 – 101 (.510 (DEN))
2014-15: 97 – 55 – 1 (.634 (NWE))

Minnesota Vikings @ Tennessee Titans: 9.11 Fox 1:00: Vikes win
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons: 1:00 Fox: Falcons win
Cincinnati Bengals @ New York Jets (GTW): 1:00 CBS: Cincy wins
San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs: 1:00 CBS: Bolts win
Miami Dolphins @ Seattle Seahawks: 4:05 CBS: Dolphins win
New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys: 4:25 Fox: New York wins
New England Patriots @ Arizona Cardinals 8:30 NBC: Cards win
Pittsburgh Steelers @ DC Redskins: 9.12 Disney 7:10: Steelers win

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: DenverBroncosMascot, Thunder, J.Beall, wc.cca, 8.20.16; S.Jackson-D.Thomas, MakeRoom, 1953, wc, ABC; ; stethoscope-hand, wc, 8.11.8, Stethoscopes; MD-stethoscope, wc, Peru, A.Proimos, 3.25.12; NFL-Draft-Shop, wc, 4.28.16, Fless13; cherries, wc, Hispalois, 7.2.12, Spain: NFL-tag, wikiproject
Posted: 9.7.16 @ 12:41am; photo-reload 11.23 @ 10pm; Copyright © 2016

NFL15 Cherry Picks W6: Pink-Eye, Sweet-Tooth

15 Oct


.....pinkeye.wc.9.11.07.P33tr.thmSince 2009, the month of October has kicked-off a blizzard of pink that falls heavy over America’s top pro’l football circuit, the National Football League.

It’s a joint-enterprise teaming the NFL with the American Cancer Society (“A Critical Catch) to increase awareness of breast cancer and ostensibly to raise money for research and education through the sale of pink-wear and related merchandise.

.....pinkgrapefruit.art.THOR.11.20.8.wc.thmIt’s reported, however, that only near 8% of sale proceeds actually make it to research coffers (“Pinkwashing“ / medicaldaily / 10.16.13 / Weller). Assuming the number’s accurate, that’s not a whole lotta‘ headway.

The fight against cancer by raising money to educate, treat and fund research is common cause. Some have taken the pink thing to heart (DeAngelo Williams (PIT)) and join in what appears a sincere solidarity to pursue those points.

.....pinkheart.D.Sharon.Pruitt.12.8.06.wcBut a tepid tally ($) which will hopefully help to fuel that fight, crass marketing (in it’s element pink is splendid but hideous on the gridiron) and a singular target subject (breast), maybe designed in large part to merely bridge NFL’s consumer gender gap, should leave fans wanting more and, at the same time, wanting less.

Let us together fight all forms of cancer with dedication, dignity (no on-field pink-wear) and devoid of any doubts on altruistic goals.

Heart & Soul

The NFL is a for-profit enterprise. Outside it’s purview of business & entertainment it’s under no obligation, moral or otherwise, to join in fights against any disease. Anything it or any other going-concern decides to give in good faith to combat illness is a good thing.

.....sugar.cuboid.10.30.5.wc.Carioca.thmBut as they’ve shown a spirited effort in the breast cancer fight, the National might consider teaming with it’s top sponsor PepsiCo in taking the lead in combating another major health concern in curtailing the world’s growing obsession with sugar, known to have inflammatory and oxidizing effects throughout the human body.

For every one woman who dies of breast cancer, six will die of heart disease.

The list is long: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, fatty liver infiltration, neurodegenerative disorder (Alzheimer’s) and even possible link between large and long-term consumption of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) by expectant mothers and rise in diagnosis of developmental disorder autism which “increased 91% between 2005 to 2010 despite fewer children receiving special education overall during the same time period (clinicalepigeneticjournal.com (CPJ) / “A macroepigenetic approach” / R.Dufault et al / 2012, 4:6).”

....HFCS.tanker.T.Arthur.6.3.8.wc.thmAdmittedly, it’s hard to see NFL asking a sponsor to invite consumers to cut intake of sugar, it’s bread & butter, so to speak. PepsiCo, like Coke®, is a business helping feed the world and its growing numbers. Part of the answer may lie in reduction of sugar ingredient throughout their line, coupled with education effort on health risks posed by excess consumption, before the Washingtonians may decide to intervene. FFT.

Curious Quote…from the past

Ruth Gordon (Harold & Maude (‘71)):

....Gordon&Wood.wc.2.28.66.WB.GGA“Alot of people enjoy being dead, but they’re not dead, really. They’re just backing away from life. Reach out, take a chance, get hurt even, but play as well as you can.

Go team go! Give me an L, give me an I, give me a V, give me an E, L-I-V-E…LIVE! Otherwise you got nothing to talk about in the locker-room.” Ruth was wise, and cute as the dickens.




Cherry Picks Week 6: Some real beauties

Atlanta (5-0) @ New Orleans (1-4): 10.15 CBS 8:25; Saints win
Redskins (2-3) @ New York (3-1): 10.18 Fox 1:00; Jets win
Arizona (4-1) @ Pittsburgh (3-2): Fox 1:00 (GOTW): Cards win
Kansas City (1-4) @ Minnesota (2-2): CBS 1:00: Chiefs win
Cincy (5-0) @ Buffalo (3-2): CBS 1:00 (GOTW): Bengals win
Denver (5-0) @ Cleveland (2-3): CBS 1:00: Broncos win
Carolina (4-0) @ Seattle (2-3): Fox 4:05 (GOTW): Seahawks win
San Diego (2-3) @ Green Bay (5-0): CBS 4:25: Packers win
Ravens (1-4) @ 49ers (2-3): CBS 4:25: Baltimore wins
New England (4-0) @ Indianapolis (3-2): NBC 8:30: Pats win
Giants (3-2) @ Philadelphia (2-3): 10.19 ESPN 8:30: Eagles win

Record: 20 – 23

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo Credit: pink, wc, Jarcje, 7.22.8; pinkeye, wc, P33tr, 9.11.7; grapefruit, THOR, 11.20.8, wc; A Little Love, D.Sharon.Pruitt, wc, 12.8.6; ; cube-sugar, HFCS, wc, 10.30.5, Carioca; HFCS-tank-car, wc, T.Arthur, 6.3.8; Wood&Gordon, GGA, 2.28.66, WB; ripe-cherries, wc, Chirak, 6.24.7; NFL-wikiproject
Posted: 10.14.15 @ 5:13pm EST; Copyright ® 2015